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The sad day that Laisterdyke left the league

 

It is now 34 years since Laisterdyke resigned from the Bradford League in 1986. Laisterdyke, along with Hartshead Moor, joined the Bradford League in 1963 when expansions moves were mooted.

 

The Broad Lane club was deemed by the league to be in good shape, having a tidy ground in a good catchment area with ever improving facilities. They had the advantage of having a lively social club/bar which generated useful funds for the club.

 

However, they had a relatively short and inglorious history in the league, despite having their moments of success.

 

Laisterdyke is more of an urban district rather than a village, and borders Barkerend, Bradford Moor, Thornbury, Tyersal and Bowling with the Leeds-Bradford railway line passing through. It was important enough to have its own railway station up to 1966 when it closed.

 

Its most famous resident was the wrestler Les Kellett who was born in Laisterdyke and the cricket club had enough standing in the town to join the Bradford Cricket League in 1909.

 

  A pre first World War Laisterdyke side. Picture: Phil Langdale

   Laisterdyke's 1914 PriestleyShield winning squad. Picture: Phil Langdale.

 

First team success was lacking, but their seconds won the Priestley Shield in 1914 and 1922, and two league titles in 1910 and 1919.

 

Their last season of the first era was 1929, and after that records are scarce about their cricket, but it was thought they were in the Yorkshire Council. 

Back in the Bradford League

In 1963 they consolidated nicely in their first season finishing ninth, with three pro players Alan Clarke, John Hainsworth and John White doing their stuff, the latter taking 62 wickets.

 

Another pro, Raymond Hirst was an accomplished wicketkeeper/batsman who gave sterling service in the sixties. Laisterdyke were promoted in 1964 after big performances from Hainsworth who scored 428 runs and took 40 wickets, and Harold Gill, Hirst and Alan Clarke. They managed to stave off relegation the following year mainly due to the runs from Goolam Abed and Harold Gill.

 

Laisterdyke 1966: Front row, left to right H Gill, G Morley, R Hirst (captain), D Lane, G A Bed.
Back row, left to right J Hainsworth, P Greenwood, G Walton, P D Brown, I Hewitt, M Brearley.

 

The 1966 campaign was deemed to be a truly bittersweet season for the Dyke’ who suffered relegation but had a glorious run to the Priestley Cup final at Park Avenue. 

 

Gill and Abed were again the main batsmen in the league, but this time they could not save their side from relegation.

 

There was exaltation when in the Priestley Cup semi-final, they beat much fancied Eccleshill in a thriller. Eccleshill scored what at the time seemed to be a winning total of 216-6, with only Hainsworth (3-43) making headway with the ball.

 

However, he made greater headway with the bat, scoring a stunning ninety-four not out in 71 minutes to guide his side to a 6-wicket victory.

 

He was carried off the field shoulder high by his team-mates afterwards but was thankful for the support from Gill who scored a valuable half-century.

 

It was a real anti-climax in the final at Park Avenue when the Dyke’ restricted Bradford to 158-8 on a slow wicket. The neutral spectators assumed they had a real chance of victory, but they capitulated to a disappointing 92 all-out.

 

 After relegation in 1966, they sustained a lengthy spell in Division Two. However, they maintained a high standard in the league and could still attract good pros like Brian Collier who in 1969 topped 500-runs and also took 35 wickets.

     Young hopefuls Kenny Hibbitt and Reg Nelson

 

Laisterdyke 1968: Back, left to right R Hirst, P Taylor, R Sanderson, D Yates, J Hainsworth, T Smith. Front: H Gill, D Jones, N Fell, J Morley, P Kirby.

 

The junior section was strong in the 1966/1967 era and along with promising all-rounder Kenny Hibbitt, who would have a professional football career with Bradford Park Avenue and Wolverhampton Wanderers, the young David Bairstow emerged before joining Undercliffe and making the grade for Yorkshire.

 

Other graduates from Laisterdyke juniors were David Jones, David Worrall, Eddie Halliwell, Graham Stevens and Stephen Horner, who all had strong careers in first team cricket.

 

A real character that will surely go down in Laisterdyke folklore is big hitting David Yates. He was always a rustic batsman who would come in at middle order and rarely show the consistency to even creep into the lower reaches of the batting averages.


But, on his day he would hit the ball into orbit, and it was almost impossible to subdue him. He could sway the fortunes of a game in a matter of balls, such was his power.

 

His Fastest 50 Award in 1970 was secured with a 27-minute 50 was ample reward for one of the most revered ‘hitters’ at the time.

Swinging Fortunes in the Seventies

Laiseterdyke 1973: Back, from left T Smith, D Yates, R Taylor, T Mead, S Heald, P Kirby.
Front M Heaton, E Halliwell, R Sanderson, M Ledger, G Morley.

 

The Seventies saw swinging fortunes with promotion in 1973 and 1975, and relegation in 1974 and 1978 respectively. When they finished a very worthy seventh in Division One in 1976 it would be their finest achievement in the league in the 1963-1985 eras.

 

During this period, they had two fine seamers in Martin Ledger and Malcolm Naylor. Ledger was instrumental in Laisterdyke winning promotion in 1973 when he took 68 wickets at 12.42, while Naylor was equally influential in 1975 when the club won the Second Division title.

 

Naylor took 74 wickets at 10.44, and in subsequent seasons had the following hauls-

1977- 53 wickets

1979- 72 wickets

1980- 58 wickets

1981- 47 wickets

1982- 72 wickets

1983- 53 wickets

1984- 64 wickets

1985- 59 wickets

 

Naylor was one of the leading seamers in the league and accomplished enough to have played in any of the top sides in the league.

 

Former Somerset county player Tony Clarkson came on the scene in the seventies and scored 739 runs in 1979.

He continued his good form in the eighties-

1980 - 396 run at 49.26

1981 - 886 run at 52.11

Clarkson was a right-handed opening batsman and off break bowler, and played his early cricket for Harrogate, for whom he opened both the batting and the bowling. After first playing for the Yorkshire Second XI in 1958, he made his debut for his native county in 1963.

He moved to Somerset in 1966, looking for more opportunities, and played until 1971, winning his cap in 1968.

In 110 First Class matches he scored 4,458 runs at 25.18, with two centuries and a best score of 131 for an average of 25.18. He took 13 wickets at 28.25.

Laisterdyke always endeavoured to keep standards high and could persuade top players to Broad Lane. Ray Peel, Malcolm Mawson and Tony Burnett were good pros, and the likes of Geoff Morley, Stuart Nichols, Reg Taylor, Trevor Smith, Bob Sanderson and Danley Boxhill were also consistent performers.

The Windhill Connection

The club suffered a real blow when several key players decided to move to rivals Windhill, among them Eddie Halliwell, David Jones, David Worrall and Tony Clarkson.

 

Swing bowler Halliwell topped 40 wickets in four successive seasons at Busy Lane, with a best tally of 50 in 1979.

His former Laisterdyke teammate David Jones scored steady runs and had a best season with the ball in 1976 when he took 49 wickets with his left arm spin.

 

Another former Laisterdyke player at Windhill was left-handed batsman Worrall who helped to assist his side to a top half position in 1981 with 629 runs. He was a hard-hitting batsman who had a love of the lofted drive which often resulted in a six. He would later, as Cricket Chairman of Cleckheaton, guide the club to two title wins in 2013 and 2014.

 

Top pro Clarkson, also moved to Busy Lane and in 1982, became the first Windhill player to top the 1,000 runs mark – he made 1,233 runs in 26 innings at 68.50, including one century and 11 half-centuries, and in doing so topped the Second Division Bowling Averages.

The Final Decade

At the beginning of the final decade, Laisterdyke still had Clarkson and a side good enough to finish fourth in Division Two.

They had a player in Paul Kirby who liked to play shots, particularly seizing on to anything short, and won fielding points in abundance in former years.

 

However, they reached rock bottom in 1982, and had to apply for re-election despite the presence of Mawson, Naylor and Burnett in their side.

 

Laisterdyke 1985: Back, from left T Smith, D Yates, R Taylor, T Mead, S Heald, P Kirby.
Front M Heaton, E Halliwell, R Sanderson, M Ledger, G Morley.

 

Amazingly, three years later in 1985 they would be promoted with a team containing influential players like Jones, Mark Paynter, Martin Pringle Halliwell and Naylor.

 

Opening bowler Halliwell, who had re-joined from Windhill, had his career best season taking 78 wickets at 13.29, while Naylor, his partner, took 59 wickets. This strong seam bowling attack was the catalyst for their success.

 

Halliwell was also a very handy tail-hander who could usher the score along when it was most needed. He enjoyed the distinction of winning the league’s Fastest Fifty Award for Windhill in 1979, and Queensbury in 1986.

 

Laisterdyke were relegated from bottom position in 1986 and they were subsequently plunged into crisis. This season would be their last in the Bradford League as they resigned from the league citing lack of workers to sustain the club’s activities.

 

For the record, Mark Webster (533 runs), Nick Davies (475 runs) and David Jones (480 runs), batted well but fought a losing battle in 1986, and the last team to take the field as a Bradford League side was as follows-

 

David Jones (Capt), Nick Davies, Willie Hogg, Greg Hanley, Russell Janzen, Andy Balmforth, Mark Paynter, Ron Kelly, Gary Kingett, Andrew Easby, Mark Webster.

 

Laisterdyke 1986: Back, from left Nick Davies, Willie Hogg, Greg Hanley, Russell Janzen, Andy Balmforth, Mark Paynter. Front Ron Kelly, Gary Kingett, David Jones, Andrew Easby, Mark Webster

 

The club was reborn in 1989 and had a successful spell in the Bradford Central League. In 1991, they won the Division One title, and were entered into the prestigious Black Sheep Yorkshire Champions Cup for 1992. They were drawn away to Pudsey St Lawrence and although they lost, gave a good account of themselves.

 

Their main bowler Nasir Jamal gave the St Lawrence batsmen all sorts of problems Jamal went on to have a successful career playing at the highest level of club cricket.

 

Unfortunately, they folded for a second time. Fortunately, the ground has been used, and still is, by sundry Dales Council sides, but there is no prospect of a reborn Laisterdyke Cricket Club.

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